Monday, February 7, 2011

Double the Recipe, Double the Dinner


Usually Purple Asparagus runs a single curriculum each month. This makes it easy for supply purposes. So say we've got leftover mint for our Tangerine-Mint Salad, we use it at the next school. It's never an exact science when you have to buy your ingredients in a single size container, so usually we have some yogurt leftover, but it's never an excessive amount.

When we teach a special curriculum, however, we often have leftovers. Not enough to bring to a food bank, but certainly too much to throw out. Since, more often than not, I'm teaching the class, I come home with the excess product. And, thus, I need to figure out what to do with them.

A few weeks back, I taught a healthy, seasonal cooking class to seven divisions of high school students. As any parent of a teenager can likely attest, this is a tough bunch to preach the values of healthy eating. They just don't care - they think that they'll live forever. They also hate being told what to do, and this includes what to eat.

So, I was pretty proud when this group of 200 plus students loved what we made. I demonstrated two dishes: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas with Lime Sour Cream and Spinach, Avocado and Blood Orange Salad. While they all ate and enjoyed, I still had leftovers: a single sweet potato and five plus cups of black beans. On the day of the snowpocalypse, filled with shovelling, playing, and puppy walking, I made a big pot of black bean soup and on the side a batch of sweet potato biscuits.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas
Serves 6

This recipe was inspired by one that my friend Elena Marre makes over at The Kids' Table. I just gussied up the beans a bit.

6 whole wheat tortillas
1 sweet potato, roasted
1 tablespoon 2 % milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups cooked beans or 1 14-ounce can black beans
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon cumin
½ Serrano chile, minced
1 1/2 cup Monterey jack
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lime juice

Mash the sweet potato with the milk and salt. Rinse black beans in a strainer if using canned (it reduces the sodium content). In a large bowl, combine the lime juice, cumin and Serrano chile. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to combine. Add black beans and scallions and mix to combine.

Spread a layer of sweet potato on a tortilla. Layer a 1/4 cup of black beans on top. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese on top of the beans. Fold over and cook in a hot non-stick saute pan. In the meantime, whisk together the sour cream and lime in a small bowl. Serve the quesadillas with lime sour cream.

Any excess seasoned black beans can be served as a side dish.

Black Bean Soup
Serves 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 small red onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon paprika
5 cups cooked black beans
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cumin

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot until softened. Add cumin and paprika and cook until fragrant, just a few seconds. Add black beans, chicken stock, tomato puree, water, bay leaf, and cumin. Cook for 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and puree. Serve warm with a touch of sour cream and a lime wedge on top.

For the sweet potato biscuits, I used a recipe from Cheryl Alter Jamison and Bill Jamison's A Real American Breakfast.


  1. Herbs are fun and easy to grow. When harvested they make even the simplest meal seem like a gourmet delight. By using herbs in your cooking you can easily change the flavors of your recipes in many different ways, according to which herbs you add. Fresh herbs are great in breads, stews, soups or vegetables. Every time you add a different herb you have completely changed the taste. learn more:

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  2. It's fun for me to see how other cooking teachers work with their students. Thanks for sharing!


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